English & Spanish
Ahh middle school. Hormones, moving to new schools, wanting to look cool…secret rooms that respond to your needs? Maybe not for all of us, but for Héctor and his new middle school this seems to be the case. Héctor has moved from San Francisco, where it was celebrated to be queer and into theatre, to a small town where he finds himself in the line of fire of Mike, the school bully. When trying to find a place to hide, he comes upon a magical room. And soon, a couple of other kids from around the country who are also in need of refuge pop into Héctor’s magical room as well.
Magic rooms that can create your Abuela’s horchata are cool, but what about a loving and accepting family when you’re a queer preteen and come out to them? What about books that show LGBTQ characters of color living their (mostly) best lives? Is that the best of all? If you’re me, then the answer is yes. The thing is, being a preteen kinda sucks. There’s immense social pressure to fit into the dominant culture, which in general is white, cis, and hetero. Nobody wants to let their family down, even if this pressure is internal. Héctor loves his Latinx heritage, and he doesn’t want to make his family feel like he can’t handle his own at a new school.
Mark Oshiro has created a beautiful book. The Insiders touches on so many aspects of growing up, with a special emphasis on the added complexities of knowing your queerness early, and coming out in middle school. AND nonbinary representation, what?! This makes me so happy.
Also, their author bio is probably the best one I’ve ever read and would like to personally invite Mark to come pet our dog in order to help fulfill their lifelong goal of petting every dog in the world. A noble, noble task.
This book was kindly sent by Harper Kids, but all opinions are my own!
Mark Oshiro is the award-winning author of the young adult books ANGER IS A GIFT (2019 Schneider Family Book Award) and EACH OF US A DESERT, both with Tor Teen, as well as their middle grade debut, THE INSIDERS, out in 2021 with Harper Collins. When not writing, they are trying to pet every dog in the world.
Mark is based in Atlanta, GA.